I wake to dark sky     
and heavy rain    
equal in an hour    
to 30 inches of snow.      
The emergency signal      
blares on the radio.
Flash floods.
People stranded
on roofs of cars.
Stay off the roads!

House-bound, I pick up
where I left off
in Remarque, his book
about the western front
my father fought in.
I grew up fearful,
his anger deadly
as exploding shells.

Two scenes stand out.
The hero Paul
stabs a French soldier,
mano a mano, nearly
goes mad with guilt
at what he’s done.
To see the dying face, the eyes,
up close. To smell
the blood on his hands.

The other’s near the end
when Paul carries
his injured friend Kat
on his shoulders
like Jesus with the lamb.
You might have spared
yourself that, says the orderly
in the dressing station.
This man’s dead.
I wept, thought of Wright’s
St. Judas: flayed without hope
I held the man for nothing
in my arms.

At my father’s funeral,
a long ago December,
the snow suddenly
stopped, the sun
cut through clouds,
pouring light on the coffin.
I saw it as a sign. Young,
I wanted heaven for him.
He was not a good man.
No one blamed the war.
No one blamed the war.

Elisabeth Murawski

Elisabeth is the author of Heiress, which received The Poetry Society of Virginia Book Award 2018, Zorba’s Daughter, which won the May Swenson Poetry Award, Moon and Mercury, and two chapbooks. Recent publications include The Yale Review, The Hudson Review, and The Carolina Quarterly. Her poem, “Duplex,” won the 2019 Ledbury Poetry Festival Poetry Competition. A native of Chicago, she currently lives in Alexandria, VA.

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